Thursday 29 August 2013

Poplar Surprise

The last few moth trappings have been a little disappointing but with the wind dying off last night I thought it was worth another go. About 10pm I had a look and while I was by the trap an Old Lady moth landed on the trap briefly and then vanished. Unfortunately this huge moth did not reappear and was not there this morning. A Cypress Pug was interesting but the surprise was a late Poplar Hawk Moth that was still in very good condition.
Yesterday I had a short trip to High and Over where I looked for Wall Brown ova (more of this to follow). I also saw several fresh Speckled Wood. It is so easy to ignore these common butterflies, but when they are really fresh they can be well worth a bit of effort. I particularly like the eye spots on the hindwing of this particular individual.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Drifting Back 2

I haven't been able to do too many longer trips this year unfortunately but in May I did manage to do one of my favourite trips. A round trip starting near Heyshott for Birds Nest Orchids followed by the Duke of Burgundy on Heyshott Down and then up to Botany Bay and Tugley Wood for the Wood White. I took Pete Varnham with me as he had never seen the Duke before, and it had been many years since he had seen the Wood White. It was a very successful day with all the targets achieved.
The Duke of Burgundy
and Wood White

and the Birds Nest Orchids.

Saturday 24 August 2013


Early evening yesterday I had a phone call from Michael Blencowe advising me that a Swallowtail was near Wilmington. Unfortunately I was unable to get over there then but as it had rained all night I decided that there was still a very good chance that the butterfly was likely still to be in the same area today. Not perhaps ideal weather for butterfly watching but as it appeared to brighten slightly I took advantage and shot over there with instructions as to where it had been. Amazingly it was still there and as a warmer and brighter patch arrived the butterfly opened its wings for a while. An amazing sight to see this rare migrant in Sussex. My thanks to Michael for letting me know about it and to David Bradford who originally found it.



Wednesday 21 August 2013

Brown Hairstreak

A great day in West Sussex with Nigel watching the beautiful Brown Hairstreak. In total 5 Brown Hairstreaks seen, 1 male and 4 female. As usual with this species the photographs taken do not do the butterfly justice but it was great just watching them moving through the blackthorn looking for places to lay their eggs. Several Clouded Yellow also seen along with several more common species. Dragonflies seen included Migrant and Southern Hawkers.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Tiger in my trap

For the 2nd time in a fortnight I've been lucky to have the rare Jersey Tiger Moth in the trap. According to Colin Pratt, the Sussex Moth Recorder,  my first Jersey Tiger was the first ever record for Seaford, so I guess, this one is the 2nd record for Seaford!!

Later in the day I had another attempt at my annual Wall Brown count on my usual circuit from home. This is a circuit of a little over 4 miles and today was my highest ever count of 105. For a species that has declined in numbers so dramatically in Britain over the last 30 years' it is very rewarding to see numbers like this so locally. Another female posed very briefly for me.

Sunday 18 August 2013

Lady Wall Brown

Very pleased today to get a picture of a female Wall Brown. Many Wall Brown seen, as usual mostly males, but 3 females seen including one mating. Other species were keeping low due to the breezy conditions but at least the sun was shining.

Friday 16 August 2013

New Moths

One of the good things about being new to moth trapping this year is that most nights that the trap is set a few new moths are caught. Last night was one of these with new recordings for a Sharp-angled Peacock.
Also the smart, small Toadflax Pug.

As well as the Iron Prominent.

Migrant moths were made up of the Four-spotted Footman with the female with the spots

and the male without the spots!!
This moth is nationally scarce with the female in particular being rarely seen.

Thursday 15 August 2013

Yellow, Brown and Blue.

A visit to Castle Hill at Newhaven today produced at least 3 Clouded Yellow, including one egg laying, as well as many Wall Brown and Common Blue. One very attractive female Common Blue posed well for the camera despite the breezy conditions.

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Gold Spot

The moth trap threw up a few new moths this morning. The largest moth was a faded Poplar Hawk Moth which later in the morning was attacked by a wasp twice. Each time I had to pin the moth down and actually remove the wasp that was hanging on to the wing whilst the moth was in obvious distress.
The best of the new moths was a male Black Arches.

And a fabulous Gold Spot.

Saturday 10 August 2013

Wall Brown bonanza

With the 2nd brood of Wall Brown now flying I called up to The Comp yesterday afternoon for a short session. This butterfly is one of the flightiest species and is particularly difficult to get decent photographs of. Fortunately The Comp is a mile long footpath with good quantities of this butterfly. Pretty soon I found a nice male posing well on the bushes. A cyclist came along at the same time and put the butterfly up but fortunately it settled again in a better location.

During the day today I walked my long circuit where I count Wall Brown. Although I nearly didn't do it due the weather being a bit cloudy I still counted 81 individuals. If the weather had been better 100 was a strong possibility.
This morning in the moth trap was this handsome Red Twin-spot Carpet.

Friday 9 August 2013

Ashdown Again

I had just over an hour to burn yesterday lunchtime in the Crowborough area so I decided to return to Old Lodge  to see if I could find the Black Darter again.
At the car park there was a large area of fleabane that the butterflies were enjoying including a couple of Silver Washed Fritillaries, Peacock, many Gatekeepers and this very bright Painted Lady.

It was then on to the small acid ponds where a tiny male Black Darter was flying around the water. It generally perched well out of reach, but once, it perched on a reed stem nearby. This male was now displaying its full adult colours.

Once again Small Red Damselflies were around the pond with several mating pairs.

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Old Blue Eyes

Yesterday I went looking for the Common Emerald Damselfly in the ditches near the River Cuckmere. I was lucky to find both a male and female. The male really has striking blue eyes!!
Meanwhile the female has sort of greyish eyes.

In the moth trap this morning it was a case of which moth is the most bizarre looking.
The Pale Prominent.

Or the Pebble Hook-tip?

Monday 5 August 2013

Tigers in the garden

In the moth trap this morning was my first Garden Tiger along with a couple of Ruby Tiger.
Although the Garden Tiger was slightly worn it was still a lovely moth.
Also in the trap was a Scalloped Oak. Far from rare but still a handsome moth.

Of the 3 evenings the moth trap has been out this month this was the quietest night. There was still getting on for 100 moths but all the others were regulars accept for 2 that escaped before I could do a proper id on them. The biggest moth was a Privet Hawk that has been a regular in the trap this summer.

Sunday 4 August 2013

Hairstreaks and Skippers

I called up to Friston Forest and Lullington Heath to do my 'Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey' today and there were butterflies everywhere.
On the way up the path I diverted a short distance to check out some brambles near some elms where a couple of years ago I found a late tatty White Letter Hairstreak. I was amazed to find 3 female Hairstreaks nectaring with one of them in very good condition considering how late it is in their flight season. What a bonus!!

It was then into Friston to do the survey, after which I spent a bit of time looking for some more Silver Spotted Skippers. One of which settled on this knapweed and allowed several pictures from both into the sun and away from it bringing out the different colours and textures. Another bonus!!


Saturday 3 August 2013


A visit to Windover Hill to see how the local Grayling colony was doing proved successful with plenty seen, including 2 away from the main area. As ever it was a challenge to get a picture with the forewing showing.

A pair of Grayling were seen in their courtship.

And another pair were seen mating.

Friday 2 August 2013

Great Moth Trap

A great moth trap today with the rare migrant Jersey Tiger putting in an appearance.
Also a very smart Oak Eggar. Normally only seen travelling at speed.

And a Marbled Green. Fantastic colours and pattern on this small moth.

Thursday 1 August 2013

I've got The Blues!!

Over The South Downs there are lots of Blue Butterflies flying at the present. Mostly Chalkhill but also some very smart Common Blue.
I do find that the females of both these species are really attractive, particularly on the underwing.
This is the Chalkhill Blue female.

Common Blue female.

The other downland blue flying at the moment is the Small Blue and very soon the Adonis Blue will have their 2nd brood.
There were a few migrants flying today with a Hummingbird Hawk in the garden and a perfect condition Painted Lady on the Downs along with lots of Silver Y.
The 2nd brood Wall Brown have also at last started to appear.